The issue of road maintenance with the upcoming Mid-Kansas Co-Op location on Butler Road continued on Tuesday morning. Following a discussion several weeks ago with the Butler County Commission, an agreement on the cost sharing of road improvements as well as a potential turning lane was requested from the Co-Op.
“The Commission requested an 80-20 cost sharing agreement with Mid Kansas Co-Op,” began David Alfaro, Director of Economic Development. “They have agreed to provide the right of way and the easements needed on Butler Road. They are asking that we do the engineering on the location and they will complete the documents necessary for the right of way. They are also once again agreeing to an 80 percent -20 percent cost share with a maximum cost share of $150,000. I personally think the $150,000 was based upon an estimated cost of the turn lane at another location.”
When Commissioner Peggy Palmer began to question the omitting of the traffic study from the new agreement, Alfaro explained the company felt if they’re going to do the turning lanes, then they should do it up front. If they do this before the project is completed, then there is no reason to do the traffic study. The original traffic study was going to determine if the turn lanes were needed. This would eliminate the cost of doing that study.
“We are stating to them that we should make the improvements now,” said Alfaro. “Based upon previous projects, we know it will need to be done at some point in time. Based on their anticipated growth, the need is going to be there. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.”
“If you do the project now, you’re going to hit a project with an 80-20 split, if you wait 20 years, you’re going to hit a 50-50 split because of inflation,” explained County Administrator Will Johnson.
Commissioners began to show concern on the $150,000 cap for the project.
“You’ve set your lid at $150,000 and that’s what I’m concerned about,” said Palmer. “Since we don’t have any numbers here today and we don’t have the cost of this project here. How do we protect the county?”
“The county needs to do something to protect itself,” agreed Commissioner Ed Myers. “We do have a quantity of heavy vehicles that will be using Butler Road in the vicinity of this facility. We had some improvements as well as some significant maintenance along that portion of road that would not be foreseen.
“The project is not cost neutral to the county in regards to the maintenance and concern for the public safety,” Myers continued. “It was a matter of prudence and equity to ask MKC to partner with us. With that in mind, I’m a little bit disappointed to see that parts of the original draft are not there anymore. I feel that over that 10-year period of time that we will see significant maintenance needs and potentially even an overlay so that we don’t lose the understructure of that road. We’re really in a situation of risk for the county. We’re in a situation where we could face some potential traffic issues at that intersection. I feel that the new contract of the total exposure is limited to $150,000 and I don’t feel truly that it is sufficient to balance the risks that the county is taking in this operation.”
Page 2 of 3 - “I find it hard to believe that Butler County would require any other business to maintain a county highway for the better of their business,” said Eric Lang, Southern Operations manager of Mid-Kansas Co-Op.
“We don’t ask other businesses to share a part of the road but not every other business plans on enjoying a 10-year a tax abatement,” said Myers. “Nor does any other business load the road like MKC will.”
“I don’t think the thought when the two-inch overlay was intended to be construed for long-term maintenance,” said Public Works Director Darryl Lutz. “We’re loading this road with trucks and when we design and maintain roads. It wakes several cars a day to equal the weight of one loaded truck. That’s a lot and the impact will be significant.”
“When we talk about heavy traffic, we’re only talking a four- to eight-week period,” said Alfaro. “This is going to peak during harvest season.”
“We would have to do some calculations based upon what the truck traffic is going to be so that we can design a turning lane accordingly,” commented Lutz. “I think we need to respond and tell MKC what we want to see from them.”
“I think that the revised contract needs to re-insert the two-inch overlay instead of leaving it at just the extra lanes,” commented Myers. “I would suggest that the overall cost share should be raised to $250,000-$350,000. We might find that signalization might even need to be there not even just to be used year round, but we don’t know everything that is going to roll out here. The total maximum cost sharing needs to be larger and we need something that would address the road bed itself in the contract.”
“If we are going to require them to continue maintenance, then this might as well be a private road,” countered Alfaro.
“If we start requiring all this, then we need to start assessing this across the board on every business that’s coming in,” commented Commissioner Dan Woydziak. “I think $150,000 is probably low. I’d like to see it at around $200,000.”
“This road is not a heavy structure road,” commented Lutz. “I have not done a study on this road, this is just based on observing how the road reacts to traffic. If we don’t add the structure up front, we’re going to have a major problem down the road. Improving it up front would be a prudent. You don’t want to hang a company for ongoing maintenance.”
Page 3 of 3 - “There’s a nice size abatement here,” commented Johnson. “We’ll reach a compromise, but I hope we can find a win-win for everyone, but we also need to expedite this process.”
With the commissioners coming to a consensus the cap for the project should be raised, the commission tabled the issue for a later date.
The commission also:
• presented service awards to Butler County employees.
• received a presentation from Shelly Carver and the Flinthills Regional Council regarding the Flinthills Frontier’s Project.
• approved the radio system maintenance contract with Mobile Radio Service for the 2014 calendar year.
• approved the continuation of the radio system technical support contract with Motorola Solutions for the 2014 calendar year.
• approved the 2014 cereal malt beverage licenses for Keighley Barn, Triple S. Ranch Supply, Inc., Fastrip Haverhill LLC, Leon Groceries and Shady Creek Marina.
• received a presentation of MOVE 2040 from the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
• approved resolutions #13-51 through #13-58 concerning unexpended funds.
• completed a work session on legislative priorities.
• completed a work session on policy updates.
Kari Adams can be reached at email@example.com.